La Scala

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La Scala
Teatro alla Scala.gif
Milan - Scala - Facade.jpg
Exterior of La Scala
Address Piazza della Scala, Milan
Italy
Coordinates 45°28′03″N09°11′21″E / 45.46750°N 9.18917°E / 45.46750; 9.18917 Coordinates: 45°28′03″N09°11′21″E / 45.46750°N 9.18917°E / 45.46750; 9.18917
OwnerCity of Milan
Capacity 2,030
Construction
Opened1778
Architect Giuseppe Piermarini
Website
www.teatroallascala.org

La Scala ( UK: /læˈskɑːlə/ , US: /lɑː-/ , [1] Italian:  [la ˈskaːla] ; abbreviation in Italian language for the official name Teatro alla Scala [teˈaːtro alla ˈskaːla] ) is an opera house in Milan, Italy. The theatre was inaugurated on 3 August 1778 and was originally known as the Nuovo Regio Ducale Teatro alla Scala (New Royal-Ducal Theatre alla Scala). The premiere performance was Antonio Salieri's Europa riconosciuta .

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. It is considered one of the most influential dialects of English globally, including on other varieties of English.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both Italian and other regional languages.

Contents

Most of Italy's greatest operatic artists, and many of the finest singers from around the world, have appeared at La Scala. The theatre is regarded as one of the leading opera and ballet theatres in the world and is home to the La Scala Theatre Chorus, La Scala Theatre Ballet and La Scala Theatre Orchestra. The theatre also has an associate school, known as the La Scala Theatre Academy (Italian: Accademia Teatro alla Scala), which offers professional training in music, dance, stage craft and stage management.

The La Scala Theatre Ballet is the resident classical ballet company at La Scala in Milan, Italy. One of the oldest and most renowned ballet companies in the world, the company pre-dates the theatre, but was officially founded at the inauguration of La Scala in 1778. Many leading dancers have performed with the company, including Mara Galeazzi, Alessandra Ferri, Viviana Durante, Roberto Bolle and Carla Fracci. The official associate school of the company is the La Scala Theatre Ballet School, a constituent of the La Scala Theatre Academy.

Overview

The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night Milano-scalanotte e.jpg
The Teatro alla Scala in Milan, by night

La Scala's season opens on 7 December, Saint Ambrose's Day, the feast day of Milan's patron saint. All performances must end before midnight, and long operas start earlier in the evening when necessary.

Patron saint saint regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person

A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.

The Museo Teatrale alla Scala (La Scala Theatre Museum), accessible from the theatre's foyer and a part of the house, contains a collection of paintings, drafts, statues, costumes, and other documents regarding La Scala's and opera history in general. La Scala also hosts the Accademia d'Arti e Mestieri dello Spettacolo (Academy for the Performing Arts). Its goal is to train a new generation of young musicians, technical staff, and dancers (at the Scuola di Ballo del Teatro alla Scala, one of the Academy's divisions).

Museo Teatrale alla Scala museum

The Museo Teatrale alla Scala is a theatrical museum and library attached to the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy. Although it has a particular focus on the history of opera and of that opera house, its scope extends to Italian theatrical history in general, and includes displays relating, for example, to the commedia dell'arte and to the famous stage actress Eleonora Duse.

History

A nineteenth-century depiction of the Teatro alla Scala XIX century print, Piazza della Scala, Milano.jpg
A nineteenth-century depiction of the Teatro alla Scala

A fire destroyed the previous theatre, the Teatro Regio Ducale, on 25 February 1776, after a carnival gala. A group of ninety wealthy Milanese, who owned private boxes in the theatre, wrote to Archduke Ferdinand of Austria-Este asking for a new theatre and a provisional one to be used while completing the new one. The neoclassical architect Giuseppe Piermarini produced an initial design but it was rejected by Count Firmian (the governor of the then Austrian Lombardy).

Carnival festive season which occurs immediately before Lent

Carnival is a Western Christian and Greek Orthodox festive season that occurs before the liturgical season of Lent. The main events typically occur during February or early March, during the period historically known as Shrovetide. Carnival typically involves public celebrations, including events such as parades, public street parties and other entertainments, combining some elements of a circus. Elaborate costumes and masks allow people to set aside their everyday individuality and experience a heightened sense of social unity. Participants often indulge in excessive consumption of alcohol, meat, and other foods that will be forgone during upcoming Lent. Traditionally, butter, milk, and other animal products were not consumed "excessively", rather, their stock was fully consumed as to reduce waste. Pancakes, donuts, and other desserts were prepared and eaten for a final time. During Lent, animal products are no longer eaten, and individuals have the ability to give up a certain object or activity of desire.

Neoclassicism Western art movements that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of Ancient Greece or Ancient Rome

Neoclassicism is the name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the "classical" art and culture of classical antiquity. Neoclassicism was born largely thanks to the writings of Johann Joachim Winckelmann, at the time of the rediscovery of Pompeii and Herculaneum, but its popularity spread all over Europe as a generation of European art students finished their Grand Tour and returned from Italy to their home countries with newly rediscovered Greco-Roman ideals. The main Neoclassical movement coincided with the 18th-century Age of Enlightenment, and continued into the early 19th century, laterally competing with Romanticism. In architecture, the style continued throughout the 19th, 20th and up to the 21st century.

Giuseppe Piermarini Italian architect

Giuseppe Piermarini was an Italian architect who trained with Luigi Vanvitelli in Rome and designed the Teatro alla Scala in Milan (1776–78), which remains the work by which he is remembered. Indeed, "il Piermarini" serves as an occasional euphemism for the celebrated opera house. Piermarini was appointed professor in the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, better known as Brera Academy, Milan, when it was formally founded in 1776.

A second plan was accepted in 1776 by Empress Maria Theresa. The new theatre was built on the former location of the church of Santa Maria alla Scala, from which the theatre gets its name. The church was deconsecrated and demolished and, over a period of two years, the theatre was completed by Pietro Marliani, Pietro Nosetti and Antonio and Giuseppe Fe. The theatre had a total of "3,000 or so" seats [2] organized into 678 pit-stalls, arranged in six tiers of boxes above which is the 'loggione' or two galleries. Its stage is one of the largest in Italy (16.15m d x 20.4m w x 26m h).

Santa Maria alla Scala, Milan church in Milan

Santa Maria alla Scala was a church built in the gothic style in Milan in 1381 and named in honour of Beatrice Regina della Scala, the wife of Bernabò Visconti who commissioned the building. The church was demolished in 1776 to make way for the ducal theatre which became the Teatro alla Scala.

Building expenses were covered by the sale of boxes, which were lavishly decorated by their owners, impressing observers such as Stendhal. La Scala (as it came to be known) soon became the preeminent meeting place for noble and wealthy Milanese people. In the tradition of the times, the main floor had no chairs and spectators watched the shows standing up. The orchestra was in full sight, as the orchestra pit had not yet been built.

Above the boxes, La Scala has a gallery—called the loggione—where the less wealthy can watch the performances. The gallery is typically crowded with the most critical opera aficionados, known as the loggionisti, who can be ecstatic or merciless towards singers' perceived successes or failures. For their failures, artists receive a "baptism of fire" from these aficionados, and fiascos are long remembered. For example, in 2006, tenor Roberto Alagna was booed off the stage during a performance of Aida . This forced his understudy, Antonello Palombi, to quickly replace him mid-scene without time to change into a costume.

As with most of the theatres at that time, La Scala was also a casino, with gamblers sitting in the foyer. [3] Conditions in the auditorium, too, could be frustrating for the opera lover, as Mary Shelley discovered in September 1840:

At the Opera they were giving Otto Nicolai's Templario . Unfortunately, as is well known, the theatre of La Scala serves, not only as the universal drawing-room for all the society of Milan, but every sort of trading transaction, from horse-dealing to stock-jobbing, is carried on in the pit; so that brief and far between are the snatches of melody one can catch. [4]

La Scala was originally illuminated with 84 oil lamps mounted on the stage and another thousand in the rest of theatre. To prevent the risks of fire, several rooms were filled with hundreds of water buckets. In time, oil lamps were replaced by gas lamps, these in turn were replaced by electric lights in 1883.

Interior of the opera house in 1900 Milano Teatro alla Scala Postkarte 001.jpg
Interior of the opera house in 1900

The original structure was renovated in 1907, when it was given its current layout with 1,987 seats. In 1943, during World War II, La Scala was severely damaged by bombing. It was rebuilt and reopened on 11 May 1946, with a memorable concert conducted by Arturo Toscanini—twice La Scala's principal conductor and an associate of the composers Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini—with a soprano solo by Renata Tebaldi, which created a sensation.

La Scala hosted the first productions of many famous operas, and had a special relationship with Verdi. For several years, however, Verdi did not allow his work to be played here, as some of his music had been modified (he said "corrupted") by the orchestra. This dispute originated in a disagreement over the production of his Giovanna d'Arco in 1845; however the composer later conducted his Requiem there on 25 May 1874 and he announced in 1886 that La Scala would host the premiere of what was to become his penultimate opera, Otello . [5] The premiere of his last opera, Falstaff was also given in the theatre.

In 1982, the Filarmonica della Scala was established, drawing its members from the larger pool of musicians that comprise the Orchestra della Scala.

Recent developments

Major renovation, 2002 to 2004

The exterior of La Scala in 2005 after the 2002/04 renovations Milano scala piazza.jpg
The exterior of La Scala in 2005 after the 2002/04 renovations

The theatre underwent a major renovation from early 2002 to late 2004. The theatre closed following the traditional 7 December 2001 season opening performances of Otello, which ran through December. From 19 January 2002 to November 2004, the opera company transferred to the new Teatro degli Arcimboldi, built in the Pirelli-Bicocca industrial area 4.5 miles (7.2 km) from the city centre.

The theatre's restored interior Teatro alla Scala interior Milan.jpg
The theatre's restored interior

The renovation by architect Mario Botta proved controversial, as preservationists feared that historic details would be lost. However, the opera company was satisfied with the improvements to the structure and the sound quality, which was enhanced when the heavy red carpets in the hall were removed. The stage was entirely rebuilt, and an enlarged backstage allows more sets to be stored, permitting more productions.

Seats now include monitors for the electronic libretto system provided by Radio Marconi, an Italian company, allowing audiences to follow opera libretti in English and Italian in addition to the original language.

The opera house re-opened on 7 December 2004 with a production, conducted by Riccardo Muti, of Salieri's Europa riconosciuta , the opera performed at La Scala's inauguration in 1778. [6] Tickets for the re-opening fetched up to €2,000. [7]

The renovations cost a reported €61 million, and left a budget shortfall that the opera house overcame in 2006. [7]

Management controversies and changes, 2005 onward

Daniel Barenboim Barenboim Vienna.jpg
Daniel Barenboim

Carlo Fontana, the general manager of La Scala since 1990, was dismissed in February 2005 by the board of governors over differences with the music director, Riccardo Muti. The resulting staff backlash caused serious disruptions and staff strikes. In a statement, the theatre's board said it was "urgent to unify the theatre's management". On 16 March 2005, the La Scala orchestra and other staff overwhelmingly approved a no-confidence motion against Muti, and demanded the resignation of Fontana's replacement, Mauro Meli. Muti had already been forced to cancel a concert a few days earlier because of the disagreements. Italy's culture minister, Giuliano Urbani, supported the conductor but called for urgent action by management to safeguard the smooth operation and prestige of La Scala. On 2 April 2005, Muti resigned from La Scala, citing "hostility" from staff members.

In May 2005, Stéphane Lissner, formerly head of the Aix-en-Provence Festival, was appointed General Manager and Artistic Director of La Scala, becoming the first non-Italian in its history to hold the office. On 15 May 2006, Daniel Barenboim was named Maestro Scaligero, or de facto principal guest conductor, of the company. In October 2011, Barenboim was appointed the next music director of La Scala, effective December 2011, with an initial contract of 5 years. [8]

In December 2013, management named Riccardo Chailly the next music director of La Scala, effective 1 January 2015. [9]

Stéphane Lissner left La Scala for the Paris Opera. His successor Alexander Pereira  [ de ], formerly director of the Salzburg Festival, began his tenure on 1 October 2014. [10]

La Scala will host the opening ceremony of the 134th IOC Session in 2019. [11]

Principal conductors/Music directors

Premieres

See: Category:Opera world premieres at La Scala

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References

Notes

  1. "La Scala" (US) and "La Scala". Oxford Dictionaries . Oxford University Press . Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  2. Beauvert, p. 80
  3. Mallach 2007, p. 165
  4. Shelley 1844, p. 111
  5. Kelley 2004, p. 317
  6. "La Scala revamp finished early". CBC News . 5 November 2004.
  7. 1 2 "La Scala board fires top official". BBC News . 25 February 2005.
  8. "Barenboim to head La Scala". Gramophone . London. 14 October 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2011.
  9. It's official: Riccardo Chailly to be La Scala's new music director, Gramophone (London). 10 December 2013.
  10. "Alexander Pereira to Begin La Scala Tenure in October 2014, Year Earlier Than Originally Announced". Opera News . 19 July 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  11. "IOC Elects Milan as Host of the IOC Session in 2019" (Press release). International Olympic Committee. 15 September 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  12. Conati and Medici 1994, p. 42
  13. Cantelli died in an airplane crash one week after his appointment.

Sources